Rhapsody in Red

As I travel the world I have the opportunity to both play and perform on some spectacular pianos but none more so than ‘The Baby’, an incredible piano inspired by the repeating spiral patterns found throughout the universe – from the florets of a sunflower to far flung galaxies. 

The result of an astonishing nine years of design evolution, ‘The Baby’ is handcrafted from hand-finished metals, glass fiber and layers of translucent resins by Based Upon, a family owned London artists’ studio renowned for its unique and innovative contemporary British art. The Baby is one of a kind, the last of a series of five unique pianos and is on display at the experiential Volte Art Gallery in Dubai where the video was filmed by the very talented Victor Filipov. 

The piano’s tri-oval top elevates and appears to twist away from the base to reveal a baby grand piano within. These priceless bespoke individually hand-crafted pianos are not only some of the world’s finest pianos but are also works of art. 

I was fortunate to have access to The Baby in the Volte Gallery – a pioneering 8000 square foot new gallery bringing the best of international contemporary art and design to the Middle East. Fostering new partnerships with other art spaces and museums worldwide, the Volte Gallery introduces “monumental” works that “blur the boundaries between art and design and science and technology”. These artworks are produced by artists celebrated for their spirit of innovation, pushing boundaries and harnessing the latest technologies. 

My heart was pounding with excitement at the thought of introducing my new composition “Rhapsody in Red” amid such illustrious artistic company. Not only was I privileged to be able to play and record in this distinctive environment, I had the pleasure of working with French Lebanese model and actress Marie-Therese Hanna. Her scarlet sequinned dress, designed by Lia Haerovar in Dubai, a Russian fashion designer known for her one-of-kind statement pieces, was the inspiration for naming video. 

As the music begins, the enigmatic lady in red floats into view on mysterious tango feet silhouetted by a lunar backdrop, the suggestion of a night sky striated by wisps of clouds at her feet. Her caressing hands, reflected in the sinuous burnished forms of one of the Volte Gallery’s art pieces, suggest the self care that has been so necessary in our troubled times. These dark days have also been contemplative times for me. In fact it’s during Covid quarantine that I composed this piece, not one of sadness but one with a message of hope and perseverance.

At first a soulful cello underlies the optimistic mood, suggesting a touch of lingering melancholy and contemplation, mirroring the disconsolate days of these bleak times when optimism was elusive. But soon the tempo picks up. The tone is now one of resoluteness. Even lightheartedness. Where we once peered into the unknown we now have cause for hope. Our gaze is forward. 

Cello lends support to piano as both merge towards a resolute climax, the image dissolving over a background globe, suggestive of the image of the earth from space. We are all one with common aspirations of hope and optimism towards a better world. It’s a vision I share with you in “Rhapsody in Red”.

Music Composed by: Arash Behzadi

Film maker / Cinematographer: Victor Filipov

Model: Marie-Therese Hanna

Dress Designer: Lia Haerova – Lianelli Atelier, Dubai

Conceptual Piano ‘The Baby’ by: Based Upon, London, UK

Location: Volte Art Projects, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, UAE

Copyrighter: Dee Gibney

Special gratitude to: Tushar Jiwarakja – Volte Art Projects, Dubai, UAE